Chopper, the debut feature from New Zealand born director Andrew Dominik (Jesse James, Killing them Softly) is a semi biographical tale of notorious Australian criminal Mark ‘Chopper’ Read. The story is based on the autobiographic works of Read which when published became best sellers in the author’s home country. A pre title disclaimer makes it clear though that the film is not a biography of the man and that some scenes are invented. Chopper (Eric Bana) made a name for himself as a tough guy-extortionist and boasted to having committed several murders but was never convicted of any. Inside prison he was a vicious inmate, responsible for several brutal assaults, some of which are played out on screen. When out of prison, Chopper has to keep his wits about him and with several contracts out on his life, he becomes ever more paranoid and sadistically violent.
Chopper was the sort of cult film which a lot of people would talk about at school. “Ah, mate. You seen that Chopper? It’s wicked” Because the film was liked by the same sort of people who enjoyed Guy Ritchie and other films I had no interest in, I took their enthusiasm with a pinch of salt. Over a decade later though, I thought I’d give the film ago and when I saw it was on TV one night, I decided to record it. I hadn’t realised how long ago that night was though until I noticed that the ad breaks I was fast-forwarding through were Christmas themed. Today is May the 27th.